by Emma Mittleman

Emma Mittleman

Emma Mittleman

Participants on Hadracha, RSY-Netzer’s leadership programme course, have just spent an amazing weekend preparing for our winter camps.

These events are now just around the corner and, with the darker evenings, summer seems so far away.

But together with my friend Manya Eversley, I have just started planning for next year’s summer camp.

However, this is not your usual Jewish youth movement summer camp. Manya and I grew up in RSY-Netzer and while on summer camp ourselves, we learnt about child poverty in the UK. This inspired us to give other people the chance to experience the same opportunities we had enjoyed.

This year, with the support of Finchley Reform Synagogue, we were finally able to set up and run Summer Hype, our summer camp for disadvantaged children from Hackney.

Our incredible team of leaders from RSY-Netzer took 29 children for a five-day residential camp.

For many of the children it was a week of firsts: their first time away from home; their first time trying (and loving!) home-made falafel; their first time enjoying informal education and, most of all, their first time experiencing the unique summer camp community atmosphere.

Our emphasis on creativity, individuality, respect and non-violence was picked up by the children over the week.

Our days were filled with a range of sessions.

We were particularly pleased with how well the children responded to the discussions on challenging issues, including community, identity, gender and sexuality and more.

Their reactions were amazing. One participant said: “Being here is brilliant; I’ve learnt what a real community is” and another said: “I could live here. I want to be a leader.”

It is inspiring to be part of something building bridges between communities.

I am excited for the future and I can’t wait until we are running our own leadership training for Summer Hype.

• Emma Mittleman is an RSY-Netzer madricha